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Tour de France News Extra for July 8, 2004

Edited by Kristy Scrymgeour and John Stevenson

Australian round up

By John Trevorrow

McEwen back in Green

McEwen
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As predicted, Robbie McEwen had to relinquish the yellow jersey of Tour de France leader after just one day. His Lotto-Domo team could manage only 18th place in the team time trial, finishing 4 minutes behind US Postal, but losing only the maximum 2:30. Lance Armstrong will spend his 60th day in yellow while Robbie has acquired a similar number of yellow-clad minutes. "A bit short really," said McEwen, "about one hour, 20 minutes. I don't suppose you can count the hours I wore it in bed! I did miss out on the buzz of wearing the Maillot Jaune in the peloton. But the reception from the crowds was great and I must admit I didn't realise what a buzz it would be to wear the Yellow Jersey."

About the actual time trial, McEwen said, "the course was pretty stock standard for a TTT although the conditions were treacherous. We passed the Cofidis team who all hit the deck. I'm now back in the colour that I'm a bit more used to. But with one stage win already in the bag, it feels good to be able to say that I'm just going to go for another stage win. I've almost done everything I came to do on this Tour - almost."

O'Grady still in the horrors

Stuart O'Grady
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Stuart O'Grady's horror start continued today as he fell for the third time in four days. But instead of the frustration you would expect to be bubbling to the surface after the stage, Stuey was actually laughing. "Disasters normally come in threes," he said, "so I reckon my luck has got to change soon. It was like riding on ice and on one of the corners the first guy just lost it and we all went down like a deck of cards. Still there's still more than two weeks to go and I've got to be talking about a positive story at a stage finish soon."

Sunderland's plans

Scott Sunderland was in good humour before the team time trial but still not happy with previous day's drama. " I punctured on the long section of cobbles," he explained, "and rode it flat to the end thinking there would be Mavic service there. No such luck, which is pretty thoughtless of the officials since they are the ones that organize the Paris Roubaix and should know what can happen on these cobbles. This is not a one-day classic, it is a three-week tour and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know there would be plenty of punctures and many riders would be left without assistance."

Before the start of the time trial Sunderland pointed out that the course would be dangerous, not only with the rain, but also because of the wind. "We've just ridden here 35km from the hotel and that wind's dangerous mate. With the disc wheels in and riding down on the drops. We'll just take it easy for the first 30 km and try and stay upright then bring it home in the last half into the headwind."

Scott had some interesting thoughts on the chances for rouleurs like himself to win a stage. "You've got more top sprinters now so their teams just put a couple each on the front and ride tempo and don't let the breakaways get the big gaps that happened in the past. I reckon the best chance for me will be coming into Quimper and then the stages down the Massif Central before the Pyrenees."

The new rules in the team time trial meant that most of the teams who did not have a rider challenging for overall, did not need to put in an extreme effort.

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